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Have you ever experienced muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness one or two days after exercising? If so, do not worry: this type of achiness or stiffness is absolutely normal (especially if you have been pushing yourself harder than usual) and, thankfully, doesn’t last long. Exercise physiologists refer to it as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and describe it as the increasing discomfort that typically occurs between 24 and 48 hours after physical activity. It is important to emphasize that DOMS is not the same as the muscle pain or fatigue that may be experienced during exercise or the acute, sudden and sharp pain caused by injury (e.g. muscle strains or sprains). DOMS is simply the result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is accustomed to. When this happens, small microscopic tears occur in the muscle fibres, causing soreness or stiffness. Any unusual movement can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contractions (when the muscle forcefully contracts while it lengthens) seem to be particularly damaging. DOMS typically lasts between three and five days and can range from mild to severe. Unfortunately, there is no universally recognized method to treat DOMS as no treatment has yet been proven to be 100% effective.
Over the past few years, however, a growing number of people have successfully resorted to acupressure in order to alleviate the symptoms of DOMS in a completely natural fashion-no anti-inflammatory drugs or other obscure tablets to ingest. Acupressure (not to be confused with acupuncture) is an ancient healing technique based on the application of physical pressure on specific points along the body. Such pressure boosts blood circulation and this increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle cells. Acupressure also encourages the body to release endorphins and oxytocin, thereby relieving pain and muscle tension as well as facilitating sleep.
Similarly, magnet therapy (aka magnetic therapy) has been employed for millennia to harness the healing power of magnets. When these are held against the skin, their magnetic field penetrates through it into the surrounding tissues and the blood stream. The iron in the blood is attracted to the magnetic field, causing movement within the blood stream and boosting blood flow. Faster blood circulation entails a more rapid elimination of the waste and toxins that have accumulated in the muscles and a speedier and more effective recovery of full muscle function (toxins, in fact, irritate nerve terminations and intensify the pain messages sent to the brain).
Today, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of both acupressure and magnet therapy through a single device: the “magnetic acupressure mat”. Such mat is characterized by the “spiky” plastic discs and the cylindrical bio-magnets that cover one of its sides. It must be emphasized, however, that although many different mats are available on the market, not all of them are equally effective. In order to choose the best ones, it is essential to pay attention to a number of factors. First of all, the above-mentioned plastic discs. These are commonly known as “flowers” or “florets” and feature a series of tips whose shape should be pyramidal. Also, the number of tips per floret should range between 31 and 35. A lower number may make acupressure too uncomfortable, whereas a higher number may render it too “bland” and, consequently, ineffective. It is also important to check out the mat’s padding. The best acupressure mats, in fact, are those filled with vegetable fibres (coir, spelt chaff, etc.) as they are breathable, do not lose their shape over time, do not attract mites, and, more importantly, ensure a more uniform and balanced acupressure. Moreover, unlike foam rubber and other by-products of crude oil, vegetable fibres are completely natural and environment-friendly. Finally, the magnets should be negatively-charged and positioned on the mat according to the principles of Stable Field Naturopathic Magnet Therapy. By following these simple tips, you will be able to choose the best acupressure mat and relieve post-workout aches and pains quickly and effectively.